Once thought of as a place for neighborhood kids to hang out and play ball, today the Boys & Girls Club provides evidenced based programming in education, the arts, health and wellness and character and leadership development in addition to recreational activities for school children of all ages.
Through partnerships with South Bend and Mishawaka schools and increased engagement of parents, the Boys & Girls Club is enabling children to achieve success in the classroom. In recent years, Club programming has expanded to include 21st Century Community Learning Centers and Supplemental Educational Services (SES), offering a variety of educational programs targeting children at-risk of academic failure. The results are noteworthy.
At all four Boys & Girls Club school sites Club members are outperforming their non-Club member peers on the ISTEP exam. At some sites, Club members scored on average 21% higher in English/Language Arts, an average of 9% higher across all sites. On the math portion of the ISTEP test, results were similar: Club members scored as much as 10% higher than non-Club members at some sites and an average of 5% higher across all sites.
But the story doesn’t end there. Club members enrolled in SES tutoring, a partnership with Robinson Community Learning Center, achieved remarkable gains in reading. Fifty-five percent of participating Club members increased their sight word recognition by three or more grade levels. Seventy-eight percent increased sight word recognition by a minimum of one full grade level in just one semester.
Perceptions of the Club are Changing
As a result of these and other initiatives, old perceptions of the Club are changing. Parents and teachers surveyed by an independent evaluator of 21st Century Community Learning Programs agree, “The Boys & Girls Club has a positive impact on the academic achievement of students.”
President and CEO Bruce Greenberg shares the formula to Club members’ success: “The achievements of our members, more than 1500 children throughout St. Joseph County, are realized because of the strength of our partnerships with school administrators and teachers, community partners, parents, and the unwavering commitment of our staff to create an environment where learning continues beyond the school day.”
“We celebrate the kids’ accomplishments and foster a positive peer culture that promotes academic achievement and personal responsibility. But we don’t do it at the exclusion of fun.” Greenberg concludes, “The Boys & Girls Club of today remains a safe haven for children, drawing them in with fun and providing programing that prepares them to become productive, responsible and caring citizens.”